Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another indecipherable language

Daniel came into our bedroom this morning just after 4:30 and asked if he could use our bathroom. Odd request, I thought. After all, he has a bathroom attached to his bedroom.

Even as that thought made its way off stage left of my rather groggy mind, I heard it. That sound. You know the sound. The one that starts low in the abdomen, just above the bladder, and rushes past the diaphragm, up through the small intestine and the stomach, past the vocal chords, and hits the water in the toilet with a small splash. Yes, that sound. Steve jumped out of bed to help him. I felt awful for him, but I stayed in bed.

Apparently that wasn't the first time he'd been sick last night, and it certainly wasn't the last time. Right now, he's on the family room couch, watching some television, and "looking a little green around the gills," as my mother would say. I've prayed over him, rubbed his little back, kissed his forehead, and told him countless times how much I love him. The one thing I haven't been able to do for him is stand beside or behind him when he's on the floor of the bathroom with his face in the bowl, making that sound.

I've been to the births of all three of my best friend's children - I will protect her identity in this public setting. With her firstborn, I was present for the whole thing from the first doctor's check ("You're eight centimeters dilated," he told her - just after she insisted that if she were dilated less than 4 of the required 10 centimeters she wanted to go back home.) By the time it was over, there had been blood, poop, beauty, courage, and there lay a beautiful baby girl for all of us to love. I watched the cutting and the stitching. I watched every bit of it.

The only part I couldn't watch was the part where she vomited.
There's something about throwing up...
I apologized to her on the day that Alexa was born, and I apologized to Daniel today:
"I love you. But I just can't watch you puke."

A couple of years ago (on January 7, 2005, We were never meant to understand), I wrote a blog about the language of death, a language we as humans were never meant to learn or become fluent in. Watching my son suffer today, I realize that the language of illness is only slightly more understandable to us than the language of death.

Last Friday afternoon before I got dressed and ready for the Make a Wish Foundation dinner, I went to visit a friend who is undergoing chemotherapy for recently re-diagnosed cancer. With the chemicals surging through her body, with her family hovering and willing to do anything and everything she asked, with all the grace and gentleness for which she is known, my friend looked at me with fear, with sadness, with genuine sorrow in her eyes.

Illness and death are completely incomprehensible to all of us. We can name it, treat it, shove it back into remission, but we cannot free ourselves from the horrors of sickness and the unavoidable tragedy of death. Why my friend? Why young Hope Stout, the one whose life we celebrated later that night in tuxedos and long dresses? Why my father back in March of 2001? Why does cancer even exist? When will this madness, this despair, this horror called disease end?

Another friend's husband is battling prostate cancer and brain seizures. A first-grader is in her second month of headaches and low-grade fever for something that has yet to be diagnosed.
Bone cancer. Diabetes. Lyme disease. Paralysis. Cerebral palsy. Down Syndrome. Multiple sclerosis. Bladder cancer. Cleft palate.

Multiple sorrows. Multiple surgeries.
So much pain and anguish.
So little comfort and so few cures.

But still, I have hope. I have faith. My son has faith.
Just a few minutes ago, I was was writing this blog, he called weakly to me from the family room. I went to him.
His request, "Mom, will you pray again?" I prayed again.
He cried. Then he asked for something to eat.

2 Corinthians 1:3 - 5 says the following: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

May the comfort of God our Creator, His healing hand, His provision of loved ones, caretakers, and friends, comfort and heal us all. May His peace rest upon us, abide in us, and radiate from us into the lives of the sick, the sorrowful, and the dying all around us.

Get well soon, my dear, sweet boy.
I miss your ravenous appetite, your laughter, and the sound of your basketball on the driveway.

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